Discovery of genes that distinguish our brains from those of other primates –

A fascinating scientific breakthrough has just occurred: Researchers have identified genes that could explain why the human brain is so unique compared to that of other primates.

Led by Jesse Gillis of the University of Toronto, an international team has found that certain genes are expressed differently in humans than in our primate cousins ​​(primates (from the Latin primate, atis meaning “the one who first occupies…” ) such as chimpanzees and gorillas. This discovery, published in the scientific journal (A scientist is a person dedicated to the study of one or more sciences and the…) Nature Ecology & Evolution, could illuminate the secrets of our cognitive abilities, such as complex thinking and language.

Discovery of genes that distinguish our brains from those of

To reach these results, the researchers analyzed the brains of different primates, focusing on the way genes are expressed there. They used a newer method of analyzing individual cells that allowed genetic sequencing to be examined more closely.

The team identified 139 genes that are present in all primates but show significant differences in humans. This means that these genes have evolved differently in humans, allowing them to support mutations without changing their function. This flexibility could be the key to the rapid development of our brains.

This research suggests that the unique way these genes work in humans may be behind our advanced intelligence. In addition, some of these genes are linked to brain disorders, highlighting the importance of this study in understanding certain diseases.

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Illustrative diagram of evolutionary analysis.
Photo credit: Nature Ecology & Evolution (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41559-023-02186-7

Researchers have also found that these particular genes are active in various brain cells, including neurons (nerve cells) and glial cells (which support and protect neurons). These findings provide new insights into the development and structure of the human brain.

This study is part of a larger project, the Human Cell Atlas, whose goal is to map all the cells of the human body (The human body is the physical structure of a person) to better understand our biology (biology, commonly referred to as “organic”) to understand “, is the science of life…) and diseases. With this information, scientists hope to further unravel the mysteries of human evolution and open new avenues of research to treat neurological disorders.